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USMNT rides strong second half and Pepi double to top Jamaica


The U.S. men’s national team found itself in a battle against Jamaica on Thursday night, but Gregg Berhalter’s squad delivered another game-changing second half, and it was once again Ricardo Pepi delivering the heroics.

The FC Dallas striker followed up his outstanding showing against Honduras in September with a two-goal display to help lead the USMNT to a 2-0 win over Jamaica at Q2 Stadium in Austin.

The win propelled Gregg Berhalter’s side to its first home win of the new qualifying cycle, and Pepi stole the show again, becoming the youngest USMNT player to score in back-to-back qualifying matches in the modern-era.

Despite a frantic start, the USMNT could not take advantage of its first-half edge in possession, or force a save from Andre Blake in the opening 45 minutes. Referee Reon Radix decided to rule against a possible red card offense on Kemar Lawrence in the second minute of the match after the Jamaican defender fouled Paul Arriola on a breakaway attempt.

Radix was put under pressure again later in the half as Brenden Aaronson was hauled down by Damion Lowe just outside of the Jamaica penalty box. Lowe was given a yellow card for his challenge, but it was another example of the absence of VAR in Concacaf’s World Cup Qualifying cycle.

Pepi found the breakthrough goal in the 49th minute after breaking away from the Jamaican backline and heading home Sergino Dest’s cross. Matt Turner started a fast restart from the back and eventually Dest’s cross from the right wing was headed home by Pepi.

The 18-year-old was it again in the 62nd minute, getting on the end of Aaronson’s pass in the center of the box and slotting home his second goal of the match.

Andre Blake scrambled in the dying stages of the match to deny Gyasi Zardes a goal off the bench, but Jamaica had to watch as it suffered a third qualifying defeat so far this year.

Matt Turner was called into action once for the USMNT, preserving a second shutout in four matches.

The USMNT, which moved into first place in the Octagonal with the win (at least temporarily before the Mexico-Canada qualifier) will next travel to Panama on Sunday before hosting Costa Rica in Columbus on October 13. Jamaica sits last in the group and hosts Canada on Sunday before traveling to Honduras on Oct. 13.


  1. sorry, pro-arriola folks, but i am sure we have some other player who will chase at least 80-90% as well, but who won’t kick his shots in the side net or his crosses in the seats. if someone else scores goals on jamaica you get by. if the opponent barely gives you any chances that’s wondo vs. belgium. i believe we should play team defense, and i believe the further you go back, the better you better be at it. but italy plays their butts off on defense, including the front 3, but those front 3 can be relied upon to finish their chances. this was nice to beat jamaica, but him over weah probably made it closer than necessary, it could have been an easier 4-0 game, more straight out attacking, and jamaica wouldn’t have had much more offense to show for it. i appreciate what he did but up top can we have a little finesse? play him at mid instead of roldan if you want this aspect so bad. what i want from a forward is if they get 1 chance they either feather a perfect pass or put it away.

    • No one is saying Arriola should start over Reyna or Pulisic, even over Weah or Aaronson in a one off match. However in a window he’s a useful tool. As for the 80 to 90% as well, in the international level that 10% not as good allows the defense to get out of their third. Margins are very small, against weaker opponents that we’ll get more opportunities Arriola is fine because he takes away chances with his 10% better pressure. Against France were that pressure isn’t as effective and we have one maybe two chances no he’s not an option.

      • no, you’re saying he should start 2 of 3 games to run around like a beheaded chicken and then blow every attacking chance that creates. he wouldn’t even make my roster and someone with his skill set should be a “closer” off the bench. you’re unwittingly setting up a Wondo Scenario where a player you overrate on effort is put in some situation where we don’t win 2-0 and a technical finish is required to score anything and he duffs it. arriola was fine c. 2017 when we were struggling to even create chances, or stop opponents. yes, hustle around, create chaos, see what happens. but in 2021 the talent has risen massively. weah, hoppe, aaronson, on and on, they don’t stand around on defense either, and they might actually create or finish something with it. he has been superseded by time. it’s funny watching your ilk want to bring back a sizeable chunk of arena’s squad and act like it’s genius and not playing with fire. nagbe and bedoya hustle too, give them a call…..sheesh. i thought you wanted this a little more slick and efficient. or was that pretend?

  2. I love the acrobatics people make when trying to complain about a pretty dominant 2-0 victory. It’s obvious one of the vets was supposed to start Thursday, to get the cycle off right. When both Ream and Brooks were unavailable Zimmerman and his professional experience was added to start. Just one game against a weak opponent but we don’t need to light the torches and grab the pitchforks because a camp addition started the first match. The Great Klinsmann started Zusi as a CM after the Guatemala loss in 2016, after not calling him at first.

    • I for one can’t remember a performance where Zimmerman played poorly in a US shirt. I think he’s been one of our best defenders for a while.

    • Being an LAFC supporter- I def appreciate what Zimmerman brings. There are vulnerabilities with mobility in how we’re trying to play, but he’s been around long enough is smart enough to understand his vulnerabilities and mostly avoids them. His distribution is a bit under rated by many I think as well. Under pressure he’s not a Richards, won’t dribble out of trouble or put the ball on a players boot on a long pass to the wing like Brooks, but he’s competent at passing out of the back- will put the ball in safe places or boot it if need be. He’ll def win an S ton of headers in the box and is a big asset on set pieces as a defender and on offense. We’re very fortunate to have a CB so solid 4 or 5 deep. I was a bit surprised he started, but don’t think it’s as outrageous as many. I think GB has a plan tactically and rotationally and has enough confidence in Zimmerman that he just plugged him into Brook’s role. I for sure have had frustrations with Berhalter, but- I think he got things mostly right on this night. For sure would have liked to see Hoppe inserted rather than Zardes- think we’d have seen 3 or 4-0. Finally pulling the trigger earlier on subs helps- getting Pepi and Aaronson out, Adams some rest has us set up pretty well with the right players rested etc going into the next 2. After what I thought was a pretty bad last tourney- Arriola seems to have found his legs- was back to his bumble-bee disruptive self. Having him stymie counters- provide cover on Dest’s side has its advantages for sure. Admittedly- it was against a very tired Jamaican side, but tell you what- Weah looked explosive and posed a threat every time he had the ball last night. 100% there’s a place for that in the line-up.

      • rico po: we overrate the actual tangible value of the slickness in terms of goals scored netted against the extra goals they allow. i have nothing against contributing from the back but on Planet Reality the best offensive back is Long, who gets actual goals and assists, and used to be a mid. beyond him it’s mostly people who prefer someone for aesthetics reasons even though they are a worse defender. and when we play a good team you can either defend and run with someone or not. mbappe or neymar doesn’t care if you pass pretty. doesn’t care if every 10th game you hit a nice longball assist. this is a neverending stupid debate because we looked 10x better on defense last night, but some people are obsessed with a “type.”

    • this is really not hard to follow. he was omitted last window for the injury. he was about to miss this one and we would have seen ream instead. i have barely seen brooks or ream play a decent game in years. i have been pimping zimmmermann for years, and when he does play, as the poster said, he plays routinely well. all summer tournament, too. this is not even a real choice if the coach is paying attention, and it’s lame to spin the fact the proverbial “28th” man out of 27 was his best defender last night. it says something about his ability to select whether you admit it or not. to me you have a screw loose if you’re defending brooks and ream at this point, or suggesting he secretly rates zimmermann as high as MLS defender of the year should imply. to be fair to you, we have a pattern of this gibberish dating back to arena leaving off opara for gonzo. but in praxis when given the chance the True Defenders i suggest outplay the “i like his foot skills” defenders you propose and he picks first. you’re still missing that until happenstance, this was going to be ream and brooks, and zimmermann watching on TV with us…..spin all you want….try and make us the spinners….them’s facts, dude….tell your lousy coach to pick the right defenders to begin with….it solves half our problems…..

      • Funny- but in addition to top notch shot stopping- one thing that has seemed to help settle us/ our defense is a weakness- Turner’s limitations in distribution have blunted the blind, stubborn obsession GB had early in his tenure with passing from the back- forcing it with no situational awareness to context in the match or how the opposition was defending. We still pass our way out from the back when the other team is hanging back, but Turner will go over the top when we are being pressed. Perfect! No matter how good your keeper is with his feet, that’s just good sense.

      • rico po: it did kind of arrive around when turner did, and we know turner can’t play sweeper keeper. though to be real steffen sucked trying it too — what was it, like 2 goals on gaffes — and he might look better just hoofing it when necessary just the same. i never saw a keeper we had that could do what the game plan was supposed to be. and bluntly, having watched many 433 teams happily kick the ball downfield on clears or kicks, i am lost why we were trying to build 110 yards when we could take 60 or 70 of them with a kick. maybe it’s i used to take goal kicks in college and never understood why we’d rather turn a high pressure defensive victory right back into a high pressure long field offensive effort. release the pressure and chew up some field and get it other end. i am convinced a lot of this is trying to xerox barca and its mentality, and even they 99.99% of the time can’t take a short passed goal kick and tiki-taka the ball end to end. particularly this year when they aren’t loaded with checkbook-paid talent. instead of trying to keepaway your whole way down field, make life easier, kick it to a forward. or is this an offense against aesthetics?? again, the directness thing. this team is much better when it goes right after the opponent.

  3. gonna keep beating this drum but about every goofy choice overcame him last night. zimmermann who wasn’t even supposed to make the team. weah, miles, musah, turner. conversely dest was ok, arriola debatable, and zardes and DLT useless. and few of the + ones should be this hard to argue. how hard is, you might use the MLS defender of the year. or the others. and whatever he thinks of pefok (or even sargent) they would have been better than zardes. or green/holmes/etc. vs DLT. it’s the suboptimality that drives me batty. the “i can’t play him a minute in nations league and then he’s fine in quali” sort of inaccuracy, when roldan, arriola, konrad, DLT are fine to put out there. goofy. and i’m not meaning to rain on the parade it’s just every choice he views as too risky turns out fine and his favorites mostly look like hell.

  4. tactically, they started the game out direct, but were taking the ball to the flag too much first half. late first half it kind of decayed into berhalter ball, pointless perimeter possession ending in crossing into a tall jamaican defense. second half they came out much better, direct, but they also were getting the ball back into the middle earlier. like it would go wide about halfline but then right back into the middle. the thrust is then right up the middle and direct instead of take it wide and whack it in. mind you, we were getting crossed goals but they were more like someone played into space at about the box width instead of out on the touchline with not much separation. we are so much better when we get out and run and take the ball straight to goal. to me he encouraged this take the ball to the flag nonsense and i always was taught that displayed a lack of creative ideas. you couldn’t create a way to net so you pulled the ripcord and headed for the flag to reboot.

    that and in the first half they occasionally played dangerous balls over the top, or hit a throughball. we need to get over possession for possession’s sake.

    and can we for once come out of the lockerroom playing sharp? everything with this guy is second half.

    that being said, the more direct play most of the game was a breath of fresh air, and when they didn’t take it to the flag they were more dangerous than, say, canada or ES games. but i also think some of keeping it direct to net is personnel, the injured players, weah instead of arriola, some decisions like that. if you want direct and effective you probably need a few more touch players out there.

  5. thought the defense was overall pretty good, and that was down to selection. i prefer these CBs because they can defend and are at least semi mobile. dest was used right side where he can be ok, and had a good game for him, although i thought moore looked even better off the bench. robinson was fine his side, and got forward well, though i’d like to see him put more balls across on the ground. turner made the one save demanded of him. adams did his usual top notch job mopping up, which, you can’t under-state how beneficial it is to us in killing transition and counters when he is either tackling or turning back around mids who thought they got a run going.

    the offense was a little more shaky. aaronson did well throughout. pepi disappeared for a half but was active and clinical in the second. weah came on and wreaked havoc with speed. those 3 were the effective part of the offense. musah and arriola banged into people but needed to settle down for the final ball.

    did mckennie play? i remember one long pass and that’s about it. zardes zardesed a few silver platter chances. DLT was lucky not to get a penalty for running over that guy.

    • I really like Miles and think hes a starter but thought he had a shaky game last night. Both on the ball and defending.

      3 pts, done. Next.

      • he and zimmermann had to mop up for each other a couple times but on the whole it worked. as a defender it brought joy to my heart to watch the CBs and adams cleaning up plays so easy. they were getting some shots in, but that was typically started wide, and i would pick different wingbacks, though antonee has grown on me. they also had some trouble with jamaica’s height on headers, which needs to be cleaned up, but they couldn’t finish them last night. i want people out there who can defend and these two could. i am curious if richards or CCV are this good, better, worse. i’d be even more curious, in a meaningful way, how they compare to miazga, brooks, and ream, who i think suck. you don’t have to be better than the starters to make a bench.

        more direct responding to what you said, whatever glitches he had, it’s not ream or brooks being burned for speed and either the keeper bails us out or not. it’s more like normal defense, you get faked or glitch, your help hopefully cleans it up, but you generally do your job so it’s occasional. i’m not 100% sure these should be the starting 2 in qatar but they are definitely good enough for anyone in quali. some point we need to figure out if we mark out of the game the 2-3 guys most of these teams have to worry about, we aren’t shipping many goals, and we should have the attacking goods to pretty close to run the table. i appreciate adams saying they were perhaps naive, but i think we have the talent we should be aspiring to chasing 9 points a window. just remember they have to work for it and not just show up and try to play keepaway.

      • i think the “UCL” evaluation tool snobs love, works up top but not in the back. the best backs are or were domestic. the best attackers, not so much. that does tend to favor euro based.

        this is not any sort of long term rule, it’s how things are working right now. i think the fashion trend in europe is slick backs for offense. when they click over to wanting to actually stop each other, they will train up more stoppers. it goes in fashion cycles. this cycle too will end and teams will imitate italy or atletico madrid.

    • “the best backs are or were domestic” The US has never had a great center-back. Pace Bocanegra who played middling soccer in France for a bit. You know how I know that? There has (with the exception of Onyewu’s flame-out in Milan, and I think no one here thinks Onyewu was great) been no CBs playing in Italy. Spain, France, and Germany only pretend at real defense and the English have great defenders in the PL, but as a league they don’t take it with the same level of seriousness as Italy.

      When we have a CB or Wingback starting in Italy, and I’ll allow the PL too, then we can talk

      • pope and boca were very good and it’s not their “fault” if they either played here or nibbled around the edges of europe at places like fulham or rangers. (1) at that time europe was biased against our players. landon couldn’t keep a job there, and we had some great, future “EPL keepers of the year” who would wash out at ManU or Liverpool only to have a career at Everton or Villa, where they would win honors (outshining the guy at ManU or Liverpool). (2) As Twellman noted last night, players used to pay more attention to their playing status end of cycles, to stay sharp for the Nats. That encouraged players to calibrate downwards where they could guarantee time. Teams in Europe are now less biased against us. So players favor club. And risk sitting at a good club during quali. That’s a favorable career situation, we can sign at Bayern. But then if Bayern sits you……it’s complicated….and it probably reflects “country” being deprioritized. As someone who enjoys NT ball almost more than club, I don’t know if I care about a bunch of bench sitters at Big Clubs or think it makes for the best NT. Look at Steffen. Has it helped him? How is it much different than how Howard got treated at United?

      • Alexi Lalas played a season and half (44 matches) in Serie A in 95/96. But no I don’t think he was an elite CB. Jay Demerit also 32 matches in the EPL.

      • Turkmanbashy- Onyewu wasn’t great?! I knew you when you posted about NOT getting excited about USA scoring 4 goals on the road in Honduras in a WCQ and won in San Pedro Sula. I knew you were clueless of US soccer history. News flash- It’s never been done until now. No American CB has a resume like Onyewu! #TheNorthRemembers

  6. My takeaways from this game were: 1) This was the first game where we looked like the better team, and it was at home against the worst team in qualifying. 2) Zardes wasted the good work of Weah and continues his habit of needing 10 changes to score 1, can we bench him already? 3) Did you guys see that pass from de la Torre at the end of the game? You can’t teach that and if the rest of his game develops he will be a superstar. 4) Weah is for real… which means… 5) Renya in the middle with Pulisic and Weah on the wings next time they are all available, 6) I forget who it was, but someone fell asleep at the end of the game and almost gifted a goal to Jamaica – I think it was Zimmerman. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves on defenders and let’s not hate too much on Brooks, who is still our best straight up defender. Also, just as an aside, did GGG26 actually make substitutions? Holy shit!

    • IMO, it is a stretch to put Weah ahead of Aaronson based on last night. Aaronson was very good and Weah came in as a sub and was running at tired defenders. I’m not saying he may not get there but I wouldn’t put ahead of Aaronson based on the game last night. Weah’s play was certainly encouraging and should help create great competition.

  7. I was at the game in Q2 stadium. Austin is definitely a great host site as the place was sold out and rocking! Arriola, for his lack of finishing, proved me wrong in other areas. He is great for opponents like this as he was very physical, aggressive in pressing with his constant motor, and took some crazy hits that were borderline rugby and popped up afterwards. Against top tier competition is another story but he did his job tonight.

    • meh. have we tried playing him as 6 or a mid? he bangs into people and creates chaos in the press. he gets an offensive chance and shanks the cross or shot. that and what is the value of getting stuck in to win a ball you then put in the crowd? i think he’s an interesting player but mis-cast and am leery of all the 2018 continuity GB subtly brings back. game took off last night when it was finally aaronson feeding pepi and a little bit of skill involved. not that i dislike defense and hustle, just, that end of the field, it’s more useful in a sub or maybe 1-2 players at a time, and more like mids than forwards.

  8. Urgency, speed of play and tenacity was on display from the get go. That first window’s experience was on full display. The player that displayed the most learning was Serginho Dest. He showed respect for the opposition and played well within himself which enabled him to showcase his skill. To be honest I wasn’t sure he was going to be a guy to count on versus CONCACAF opposition. I loved how he played. Looking forward to seeing that Dest going forward and the continued urgency, speed of play and tenacity from the entire group.

    • I saw that out of Dest as well. He picked and chose his moments a lot better instead of forcing stuff, focused on defending first, and looked a world better. I think it was mentality: he did not feel the need to do it all himself.
      The team seems to be coalescing into a unit, and it’s good to watch…and interestingly, it seems to be happening WITHOUT Reyna and Pulisic, who they seem to ride too heavily when they’re there, IMHO. Their absence has almost allowed the rest of the guys to find themselves as a unit. Aaronson is definitely locking up a spot as a starter and I like him better every time he gets out there.
      Was also hard not to notice how much more solid Zimmerman was than Brooks has been. Brooks really has been shaky, and has put forth some performances that seem to rattle the backline…I really like the Zimmerman/Robinson combo and they snuffed a lot of stuff out. Zimmerman’s veteran and savvy now and really sees it and reads it; Robinson’s the athlete who can sweep and chase and they seemed a good natural pairing.
      Again, I’m going to keep harping on this: Luca de la Torre. He adds something. Musah set up chances by driving up the gut, but once Luca de la Torre got in there I was back thinking exactly what I’ve always thought about him: this guy’s the missing piece of the offense, the connector who can weave and play in tight spaces and can put those perfectly-weighted killer balls to play guys in and unlock even a packed box. In conjunction with McKennie I think he’s what we need in the middle…but that doesn’t mean we have to scrap Musah either. I’d play Musah as a right wing like he does for club and not play Arriola at all. And when Reyna comes back, I’d play him in the middle as well, since he’s got a lot of those same attributes as a center midfielder I like so much in de la Torre.
      We’re getting there. Now I really want a long look at Hoppe…as a center striker. I think he and Pepi are the long-term future of the position and I wanna see if I’m right.

      • I liked what I saw from De La Torre as well. I’d like to see him vs Panama before getting super hyped on him. I haven’t seen him play against a real physical team. He needs a run out with a Honduras or El Salvador type team. If he can maintain that connecting ability then I’d be ready for a Musah, McKennie, De La Torre rotation – and we haven’t seen the Series A version if Busio yet. Again the team bumps up against too many players not enough positions. Wings – Puli, Reyna, Aaronson, Weah, Ariola (not ditching him until someone shows they can bring the tenacity he does which IMO is so impressive it totally makes up for other short comings) not to mention Morris who is training again or KDLF. MID – Mckennie, Musah, Busio, De Latorre, Lleget, Roldan.
        In any case carving out a team from this core to fit the opponents style or be able work individual match ups is just an insane evolution of USMNT this fan of 20 years can hardly grasp. There just needs to be some 6 depth created. If Adams or Acosta gets hurt the team is in trouble.

    • sorry but moore was far better. i did appreciate the one play dest raced back to mop up. i said above arriola maybe should be further back someplace well dest should be further forward concentrating primarily on offense.

      and can we please all remember that what defines these players in big picture utility is how they handle mexico and not jamaica. that should have been tennis with the net down.

      • IV – you are dead wrong. What’s important is how they handle the competition put in front of them. Period end of story.

      • no, because we will not be seeing jamaica in qatar, or an international equivalent of same. to me “how do you handle mexico” is the gold standard. we will be seeing teams that level again. to be fair, if you handled last night, you might be serviceable some quali games. maybe we can try a tougher opponent. but you seem to be suggesting we stick with certain players who looked better last night than against mexico or canada. i am not making the silly — guaranteed to bite me later on — mistake of letting those memories evaporate. those are a better simulation of qatar than last night will be. and if you can’t hack mexico i don’t want you baked into the cake. that just sets you up for your next “clark” or “lewis” or “wondo.”

  9. The CONCACAF table took a turn last night. Panama dropped points to El Salvador, and Mexico & Canada tied. If the US gets a positive result in Panama City on Sunday, and Mexico and Canada follow form this break, we just may see the top 3 break away from the pack.

    Panama on Sunday should be our most challenging away WCQ left in Central America. By the time we meet Costa Rica away, they may be out if get a positive result at home next Wednesday. A point in Panama City is expected, but a win is not out of the question.

    A hot climate, no VAR, and a substandard field are the norm. I’d expect a game like Honduras and ES. This is where you appreciate the players who can adapt to games that require grit, effort and toughness. We can knock the MLSers, but guys like Arriola, Zardes, Lletget and Roldan can be very effective in games like this. I sense if we’re even around the 60 minute mark, we may see subs who will be directed to push for a win.

    • CONCACAF is interesting again from our qualifying standpoint.

      In regard to our US win over Jamaica, I wonder if this was the easiest game during the 14 we will have? A couple of their best players did not play and they are at the bottom of the table after 4 games with a solitary point.

      Honduras and Costa Rica appear to me to be reaching the end of a golden generation that qualified them in the past. I never know what to make of Panama and their very physical play.

      I will be fun to watch.

      Canada may be sitting in a great position. They have played the two toughest games – US away and Mexico away and got points from each.

      • Canada looks increasingly solid. Unless the wheels come off for them they’re going to qualify easily and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them come through the group stage in Qatar. They’re going to surprise teams.

      • the teams are sitting roughly where they should be sitting. canada has SOME interesting players but nowhere near our sum total talent. the home result was a travesty and as you suggest a road point was their success, not ours. we looked scared, and the coach is also kind of making it up as he goes along, so optimality is down the road someplace, where canada knows exactly what it’s doing with what it has.

      • to me this is actually a down ebb cycle for most of the teams involved except us and canada. this is one reason i have criticized even successful results regionally, and pointed to games outside the continent as more relevatory. in plain english, this cycle should be a cake walk, and if it isn’t, that says something. and the hint we have work to do is the games outside north america, or against non-regional opponents. wales, switzerland, northern ireland, england, ireland, colombia, france, brazil. i do think we’ve improved over time as we brought in new players and freed them up more tactically. but to me games like france point to the high ceiling on this team but to get those results it can’t be cavalier or slapped together.

  10. Aaronson is a baller, perfect in GBs system and ideas, and he’s skilled. For me he starts on one flank or the other when all hands called. a lot to discuss but loving this. Adams again delivered. McKennie redeemed. Musah took over. Midfield came through, and Pepi played like a 9, cha ching. Arriola as good as I’ve seen hin in the uni

  11. I enjoy watching Aaronson and Arriola press and play fast…we don’t exactly string dozens of passes together, so winning the ball closer to goal is a winning strategy for us in a lot of games. Obviously Pulisic and Reyna are more skilled, but there’s something to be said for the honest and intense shift of the guys who played tonight…they certainly deserve more love than hate…

    • 100%…I don’t think a true value can be placed on tenacity. But if people have been truly paying attention it’s what has been in short supply in the “A Squad” outside of the Nation’s League final. Players like Pulisic, Aaronson and Ariola bring that every time they step on the field. If fans don’t like Ariola’s skillset they need to look at their favored choice’s ability to step up and leave everything they have out on the pitch.

    • the difference is aaronson can settle down and make the incisive offensive play after he wins it. i am not opposed entirely to the two-way stuff, i just think players should be selected primarily for being able to execute their end of the field. surely you saw how much cleaner the defense was last night. not spotless — nicholson drove them nuts — but they generally did their job and kept themselves goal side. but offensively i felt like we were more direct than usual — good — but due to the crudity of some of the players we’d win balls then fart it away. i felt like we needed a little more pepi-to-aaronson type slickness. and surely there are some slicker players around who can also chase. to me wondo used to do this arriola thing of harass people and then blow his chances. whoop de do. it needs to be a little more composed than that.

      • 2 way players are pretty much a must in today’s game and teams that refuse to adapt to this evolution then lose because of it against equally talented teams that also have forwards who willingly defend and defenders who can attack, etc. Total football with total footballers, old concept that is now more possible than ever and teams without it get punished for it, like PSG over the past few years, a good example (altho Poch is trying to change that mentality there)

      • i do think attackers should be capable of team defense roles, and defenders capable of dribbling in danger and completing passes. but attackers should be first screened for offense, and defenders for defense. then you can pick the ones you like who have “hybrid” attributes, will chase around when they lose the ball. difference between aaronson — who is technical and can create/finish something that ends up in the net — and arriola — who creates chaos but often lacks the skill to get anything tangible at the end of the play. the 2018 cycle team had a bunch of hustle players — including arriola. what they lacked was more technicality than dempsey and pulisic. so, all due respect, find me more aaronsons who have skill but chase, and fewer arriolas where the emphasis is more on chasing.

        if you want me to say what i really mean, i played forward a couple years as a kid and i got turned into a wing and a fullback because i was better at running in space or stripping their team of the ball, than i was at actually finishing, which it took me until college to fix.

        while i respect a hustling team — and my youth select all 11 made the field to get stuck in — the difference between 4 or 5-0 and 2-0 last night was a little more finesse. a little more like pepi and aaronson, or even weah’s speed, and a little less just running hard.

      • MRob, Zimmermann, ARob…all defense first guys, Adams and Acosta too, so you get what you want there. It’s much more about attacking players not watching everyone else working the team D, which is why Aaronson is first choice winger and starts for me on this team. Pepi works hard on D, helps unsettle opposing CBs, gives him an edge. It’s today’s game, the way it is. Gio’s best game in the uni was vs. Mexico because he tracked back for 80 minutes hard to help set up our attack

      • beach: see my theory is if you have a solid back 6 — keeper, backs, DM — then they will handle the sweeping — and you can emphasize the attacking aspects of the front 5. to me we are confused, picking arriola for offense, where he is klutzy, and dest for defense, where he can at times poorly defend. the two should be flipped. my defenders should be spotless defenders and my forward someone i can rely on to not shank crosses and kick dangerous shots into the side netting. to me the solution is i am sure there are other aaronsons who have technical ability but are willing to chase, who can be used instead of players whose primary value is basically playing like a DM at forward, but who finish like chris armas would have. to me that says you’re really a 6 or a wingback. and i think we have it backwards worrying about how forwards defend but less so how well the wingbacks behind them can mark…

  12. Goal-scoring sequences so far in qualifying:

    A-Rob to Aaronson
    Pepi to A-Rob
    Yedlin to Pepi
    Pepi to Aaronson
    Pepi shot, Lletget scores
    Musah to Dest to Pepi
    A-Rob to Aaronson to Pepi

    Adams, Pulisic and Lletget were involved in the build up to some of the goals as well, but what a shock that McKennie, Sargent, Reyna, Pefok, Weah and KDF involved in none of them so far. Would not have predicted that four games ago.

    • Weah has been involved in 1 game for a total of 22 minutes. During that time he helped to create 3-4 scoring opportunities that the CF (Zardes) was unable to convert.
      KDLF has been involved in 2 games for a total of 72 minutes. 65 of those minutes played against El Salvador, where the entire team played poorly.
      Yes, I would have preferred to have McKennie, Pulisic, & Reyna to have contributed more in the first 3 games, but Suspension & Injuries have played a part of their less than stellar stats.

  13. Canada drew with Mexico in Azteca. Saw about half the game and I wasn’t impressed with either team–too many errors and turnovers. I don’t think this Mexican team passes the ball as well as past teams and are vulnerable. I think we are now tied top of the table with Mexico.

    • I watched a lot as well. I had the same impression about Mexico. A lot of long balls and unforced turnovers. Not what I am used to seeing from Mexico. They had trouble defending Davies and Buchanan as well. I do think Mexico should have had a PK on that goalie blunder when he dropped the ball in front of Lozono. IMO, he pretty much tackled Lazono in the box. That was a strange play.

    • Time to give credit where credit is due. This is not the Canada of the past. In their two hardest games, they tied the US and Mexico away. They have the best player in the region in Davies, and a lot of young talent. Can anyone not see Canada headed to Qatar next year?

      • Very strong possibility of that or even making the playoff. Agree with others that Honduras and Costa Rica may be aging out; Jamaica is undermanned; El Salvador and Panama I don’t know what to expect, so yeah Canada has a real shot.

      • Watching Mexico this cycle reminds me so much of watching our guys in 2018 qualifying, they look kind of lost.

    • mexico’s gotten old. look at all the 30+s on their roster. he has made the arena 2006 error of trying to squeeze another run out of them. player x at 80% of himself is neither himself anymore nor necessarily better than prospect y at 100%. but if you shift to the kids like we have it’s an unstable situation. and he’s now in quali and fairly committed. and they are on pace to make it still, so there becomes a conservative impulse even as mexico slides behind us and perhaps canada.

      one reason i get on GB’s butt is player careers pass fast and in 2 cycles this is us. you have to take full advantage of the young and prime age play because when 2030 arrives they may or may not have any gas left as 30 year olds. so it’s this cycle and next. we need whatever makes this as good as possible, here and now, or the success window slides away and they get old.

    • Gary, I think you – and everyone else in this board – is not giving Canada enough credit. The US and MX showed poorly against Canada… at this point, it’s not “showing poorly” it is Canada being good. Man I never thought I would say that, but here we are.

      Also, COVID has made azteca a shell of the HFA it used to be. MX is going to have a tough road.

      • It would really depend on which half Gary saw. Canada was pretty good in the first half. They seemed to wear out in the second. Davies had a couple chances late he would typically finish that he misplayed. The pitch itself was in pretty poor shape which might have factored in too.

      • I do think Canada is much improved but they also parked the bus against US as bad as I think I’ve ever seen anyone park a bus with their strategy to get the ball to Davies and see if the best player in CONCACAF could single handedly create some magic. For all the critisms against Berhalter, I think his poorest coaching decision that I dont think anyone mentioned was that the US broke Canada down and got their goal so there was absolutely no reason why Yedlin should have been left alone with Davies without help. At that point there was literally only one person on the field for Canada that could have gotten them back in the game. The 2nd poor decision that everyone cited was letting fresh subs run at tired defenders. Canada took the game over at that point late but I think that was poor coaching. If the US won the game 1-0 like they should have people may view it differently. The only two teams that have all the points they should have if you believe win at home and tie on the road are US and Mexico. Canada gave up points in the first window. They should have had 7 with 2 home games. The irony is that Berhalter then used that same strategy against Hondorus to basically the same effect except they got the goals when Hondorus tired and Canada, probably unluckily against US, did not. Man, I had a lot to say apparently. Hope somebody reads it without telling me I’m a dingbat. Doh!!

      • tele: i hear you. i see 2 issues. GB takes forever to sub and thus you can at times get a tactical advantage simply getting some fresh bodies out there before we can. but i see a lot of this as personnel. yedlin at some point went off boil as a soccer player and had routine gaffes under sarachan costing us goals late, eg, peru. this becomes “yedlin being yedlin” and your job as coach is pick someone else. cannon, moore, scally, richards, etc. i think he gets chosen because once upon a time he posed an attacking threat like dest but i can’t remember last time i saw that in a NT game. to me a lot of this is simply selection. you pick a better back, he’s not getting beat this easy. and then your sub could defend too.

  14. I give Gregg a B+ on the lineup and subs tonight but that can still go up and down based on who starts the last two matches.
    At this point last window we thought we’d have everyone for match two and then we lost Reyna and Wes before the match and Dest by halftime.

    • IMO a B+ is a little generous for tonight’s game. I’d top off at a B.
      1) Zimmerman – while he didn’t play bad he unexpectedly was given the start even though he wasn’t part of the original roster. How do you go from out of camp to starting in 2 days time? Only justifiable reasoning is either someone was nursing an injury or Gregg get his roster wrong from the start.
      2) Arriola – Hustle isn’t enough anymore. He had 1 or 2 decent plays (nothing spectacular) otherwise he wasn’t much of a factor.
      3) Zardes – squandered some very, very good opportunities. I’d have liked to have seen Hoppe be given a chance at the CF spot, since Gregg has only played him as a wide forward or a 2nd striker so far.
      4) Scully – should have been in the roster and given the mop-up minutes that Moore received. Wasted opportunity to get a rising talent into the team/camp in a lower pressure situation.

      The best thing Gregg did in this game was to keep Roldan & Lletget on the bench.

      • Lost – If Ariola did anything in this game it was prove that “hustle” has a value that can be worth sacrificing some technical skill. And it is in fact a skill in itself that not anyone can provide. And until a more technically skillful player can also provide that skill (that has been so lacking) the team needs players like Ariola.

      • Arriola drew a first minute yellow that in another game is a red card. It wasn’t zero value. But Weah is a huge improvement to Arriola. So are Reyna and Aaronson for the matter. Beyond that, the work ethic and hustle to press is tough to beat for a winger.

      • Turkmen: young and fast on a wide field like azteca is bound to give Old Man Soccer Mexico fits. but i thought the results against us flattered them, look at the second NL group game. it boils down to they have 2-3 guys worth a crap. brooks and co. is not taking that seriously. you sit competent defenders with sufficient foot speed on their stars and it’s an ok team. now, “solid and well organized with 2-3 studs” in this cycle is probably 2nd or 3rd place and off to qatar. but to me if they are marked and we start the right people that should be another 2-0 game at home. take a step back and look how NL group finished, how gold cup went. they are good, but they are elso wringing about everything out of that team they can. but in a region where several teams have gotten too old it will probably be enough, and they also have 2026 to keep that momentum going. ie they won’t even have to qualify next time.

    • i think the snobs are so eager to seek “UCL players” or to make this a skill test they forget that it’s very very useful to have a beasley type player who saves you the ball fakes and can just blow right by someone. personally i found it amusing the coach talked a big game on “verticality” and then his killer speed guy was off the bench. i think that would have been 2 or 3-0 at half if he started the right people.

  15. Really pleased with the play overall, not just the win. Yes, Jamaica was not the strongest competition we’ve faced. Yes, could have had a better first half. Not sure that the “wear them down” strategy will pay off against Mexico. But Musha was solid, made possession look easy, easier than I’ve seen for the USMNT in a long time. Pepi should go 75 per game. He’s young, so let him run! On the bandwagon, horns blazing. Arriola proved a lot of us wrong, should start and go 60 in Panama. Weah looked sharp and adds another dimension. Honestly, and I’m sure many will disagree, but Weah looks more ready to contribute to the attack than Puli or Reyna. Yes I said it, and not just because they “haven’t played recently.” Aaronson was creative. Adams was himself. Wes had a good all around game in winning the ball and in distribution.

    Watching this Mexico Canda game… looks like we can expect similarly poor officiating against El Tri. Less of a surprise, but this is spectacularly bad, even for CONCACAF.

  16. Musah definitely belongs. While Arriola played well, Weah really needs to be on the pitch. They looked like a real team today with good passing and ball movement. I don’t know how much was Jamaica, but I thought we certainly looked good the way we moved the ball around. If we continue to play this way we may actually deserve to be a top 10 team. And this was without Pulisic and Reyna. We have more good playe3rs than positions, a nice place to be.

    • I think Ariola played about as I expected. He hustled, and caused problems for Jamaica when he had space. However, his weakness in tight spaces showed, when confronted by pressure he frequently misplayed the ball or outright lost possession.

      • What is with the Arriola hate? It’s as if people have to fantasize some alternative reality so they can make their point, and be right. I just don’t get it. I mean, first, he’s to slow, then he doesn’t have skill. Now he is no good in tight spaces. I mean Jesus H Mary n Joseph. You people are just kidding right???

    • Dikranovich- I think it’s people look and say talent and skill wise he’s not as good as a number of players, but as you saw tonight against most Concacaf opponents his intangibles are beneficial.

      • It’s ironic because coach be favors arriola, and will catch flake for choosing an MLSer over European talent. Eventually, I guess people will be able to say I told you so. Yet a striker is from MLS and is a phenom, and is taking time from an EPL striker. We do have a fascination with young talent here in the US, and maybe lack that ability to properly groom a player. Either way, a young striker is going to be asked to play big next year in gudder. Lot of pressure, I’m sure they will be up to it

      • Similar with Roldan. Yes, if we are playing a top European team he will be overmatched, but like Arriola and a lot of our MLS players, they are good enough for CONCACAF with the possible exception of Mexico. As we saw with the Gold Cup now our MLS players may even be good enough for Mexico.

      • Gary – after watching that Mexico game I think Ariola’s ability to be a disrupter would frustrate the heck out of them. If he’s not doing it someone else will have to do that dirty work. Reyna did show in the NL final that he can do it to some extent but he hasn’t shown that again since – in his limited minutes. Ariola’s tenacity is unmatched in the pool. Like another poster said above: we have too many players and not enough positions. Who do you sacrifice for an Ariola type player? Does he serve better coming off the bench or starting? In any case I’m not going to be mad, lose my mind or call for GB’s job if he’s on the pitch. He serves an important purpose and often times its a job no one seems to be able to do with any consistency. As an opponent I’d hate to see his name on the line-up sheet.

      • @Johnnyrazor, Yesterday’s game was against a deleted & poor Jamaica at the very bottom of the table in the CONCACAF Octagonal. Let’s see how our players perform against the likes of Mexico, Canada (the entire team wasn’t good the last game) and Panama before we conclude whether their intangibles are beneficial or not against most CONCACAF opponents.

    • musah to me is a tank. that one play where he was banging off people, shedding them, and staying upright.
      i still think he’s a wide player. his turning radius is wide and he moves the ball around slow. but, yeah, in some way or fashion he belongs out there and how he got treated last cycle was a joke. like i was saying pregame, some of the decisions last time it’s like, he can’t make that roster? or, how is x starting ahead of y? he fixed some of that but then had arriola and dest out there.

    • Simon: we’ve seen Arriola do those things in NL, GC, and last qualifying cycle. If you want someone to dribble through 3 defenders and put an inch perfect cross it’s not him. If you need a guy harass the opponents backline when their in possession and keep defenses pinned deep with well timed runs he can do that all night. These aren’t all-star games you don’t need everyone to be a top 5 leaguer. Even in GC this Summer he caused Mexico’s B team headaches. It was also Arriola that kept Davies pinned deep when we thrashed Canada in NL. In a one off do we need to see him, no but in a 3 match window he’s an asset.

      • meh. that would have been about 4 or 5-0 with weah instead of arriola. i appreciate what he does, and i think some people like how he beats up on jamaica and makes them look bad, but a faster or more clinical forward and we get at least 2 more goals and the game is less dramatic and more outright fun. and i think you’re overrating the need for a forward to chase when we already had 3 mids (plus backs) doing the job fine. in fact, if you want to have a tactical discussion, if i let Jamaica come out a little further, and win the balls a little higher up, i have created my counter-space to get behind them. if i high-press then if i win the ball jamaica is sitting back how far they brought the ball up. and then better teams aren’t getting caught in a high press. same reason princeton only lasts so many rounds in march madness. it’s a punch down tactic. it makes you look good against jamaica. i’d be focused on defensive tactics that respond to what canada or mexico does. last night should have been an aggressive attacking 4-0 game.

    • IV probably true but as you like to point out these windows require squad rotation to keep players fresh and prevent injury. Was it a gamble to put out a lesser player? Maybe a little but the C Team handled a similar Jamaica squad 2 months ago. Play Arriola against Jamaica (the weakest of the 3 opponents) now you can have Weah and Hoppe for Panama and Weah and Aaronson for Costa Rica. Given Weah’s injury history they may be just looking to bring him off the bench. If he starts Arriola every match complain away but after one match against the weakest team you just sound bitter that we won using different players or a different style than you wanted.

      • first off, i am happy not bitter at the result. second, that was his starting lineup, not a rotation. literally every other player out there except musah is obvious first choice. pepi, aaronson, mckennie, the backs, the keeper, etc. third, my point is that i am not so “rah rah” that i would tout what squeaked past the worst ocho team in the second half when i question whether it would translate to a better opponent that moves the ball too fast or well to be pressed that way. or against whom we would get fewer chances and couldn’t tolerate this sort of waste. you don’t seem to get that game should have been a laugher, and was low hanging fruit. a team looking to set its lineup should do so based on how mexico or canada goes and not the 8th place team of 8. your youth team couldn’t have been any good if you pimp setting strategy on what beats a bad team. what wins championships is sorting out what beats a good one. that is not arriola, or zardes, or dest, or roldan. weah was the one who looked electric and i guess you’d have him sub so i can watch arriola harass backs and hit shots in the side netting.

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